Bucks releases preliminary 2020 operating budget of $450 million

This is a 4.2 percent increase over 2019

Bucks County last week released its preliminary 2020 operating budget of $450 million, a 4.2 percent increase over 2019.

The proposed budget projects a deficit of roughly $16.3 million. No decision has been made on whether a tax increase will be considered to balance the budget.

There is the potential for further cuts in expenditures as well as dipping into the county’s general fund balance, said chief operating officer Brian Hessenthaler and director of finance and administration David Boscola.

Hessenthaler and Boscola said the county commissioners, county administrators, court officials and row officers would continue scrutinizing revenue and expenditures in hopes of further closing the gap.

As in previous years’ budgets, the county’s Health Division and Housing and Human Services Division account for the largest portion of the proposed 2020 budget – 49.3 percent.

Departments dedicated to providing public safety account for 26.8 percent of the total.

Among the factors driving the preliminary 2020 deficit are increased pay and benefits for employees, Boscola said. Revenue losses in the Emergency Communications Department and row offices are also contributing to the shortfall.

The county commissioners will hold a public hearing, during which members of the public may ask questions and offer comments. The date has not been set.

The budget is scheduled for final consideration and adoption on Dec. 18.

To view the 2020 preliminary operating budget, visit tinyurl.com/skrbc2z